Dahlia imperialis

Jim McKenney jamesamckenney@verizon.net
Thu, 01 Dec 2011 12:25:05 PST
James Gagliardi, Horticulturist of the Smithsonian Gardens, has sent out an email announcing that Dahlia imperialis is blooming today outside, in the open,  in the Smithsonian's  Haupt Garden in Washington, D.C. As of Sunday six flowers were open.
I don't know fur sure, but this might be the first time this species has bloomed in the open in Washington, D.C. I've grown it in the past, but the buds were always frozen before they opened. 
I don't see why a day neutral form of this plant might not eventually appear: it was only a century ago that early blooming forms of the related Cosmos bipinnatus and C. sulphureus became common in gardens. If that ever happens, and especially if such a plant could be hybridized with the familiar garden dahlias, the results might be astonishing. 
I'm tempted to run down into the city to see the plant - but I've got my hands full in the garden here: temperatures in the upper twenties F are predicted tonight. 
 Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA zone
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